#BlackLivesMatter: A Guide For Confused White People

#BlackLivesMatter: A Guide For Confused White People

Don't all lives matter? Doesn't pro-black mean anti-white? Why can't I say the N-word?
64
views

Here are seven helpful ways to begin lifting our impenetrable veils of white privilege in response to #BlackLivesMatter. I ask that you please consider these steps before changing your statuses to #BlueLivesMatter, or absentmindedly scrolling past the video of Philando Castile’s spontaneous public execution at the hands of a fatally overzealous police officer.

1. First and foremost, saying that #BlackLivesMatter does not translate to #WhiteLivesDoNot. Our comfy privilege blanket makes us feel like we’re being attacked by anything that doesn’t explicitly include us, but this isn’t the case. No one is suggesting that black lives are more meaningful than those of non-black individuals. If it’s helpful for you, maybe mentally attach the words “too,” “also,” or “as much as mine does,” to the end of the phrase. And in case you’re inclined to snidely retort that all lives matter – of course they do, but America can’t credibly make that case until we stop treating our black citizens as if they’re second-class.

2. Before you use the Dallas police shootings try to write off #BlackLivesMatter as a terrorist organization that spews anti-white or anti-police rhetoric, I want to remind you that we did not blame all white Christians for the actions of the racially-motivated attacks by Dylann Roof in Charleston last summer. The movement is pro-black, undoubtedly, but contrary to what we might be quick to assume, this does not at all mean anti-white. Instead, being pro-black is to ask white people to do the untidy, uncomfortable job of assessing how our whiteness positively impacts our lives at the expense of fewer opportunities for black Americans.

3. It’s time to acknowledge our white privilege and all of the things it does for us and absolutely nobody else. If you’re confused by what it means, check out Peggy McIntosh’s quintessential 1988 essay on it. If you’re from Chicago and you demand proof, you can see how whiteness is actively working for you and against people of color in neighborhoods such as Logan Square and Pilsen. These historically Latino communities have been gentrified, meaning white people moved in and took advantage of the low-rent costs, but as our presence increased, rent skyrocketed, which pushed Latinos out and effectively erased their ties to these areas. Just thought I’d throw that one tiny example in for anyone building a “Whiteness is a Plague to the Earth” evidence portfolio.

4. Straight, white, male readers, this may be a difficult pill for you to swallow, but you are not the arbitrator of what is and is not oppressive towards minority communities. The designated oppressor does not define the realities of the oppressed. So, if your female coworker tells you that your “harmless” joke was sexist, believe her. If your gay cousin informs you that your usage of the word “gay” is offensive, believe him. If #BlackLivesMatter tells you that our society is so structured in a way that relies upon the oppression, incarceration and extermination of black and brown men, women and children, believe them.

5. If you’re over the age of fifty, or you’ve only ever read history books written by white dudes, you may find yourself puzzled by the movement. #BlackLivesMatter seems superfluous, you may be thinking; after all, black people have “come so far.” To be sure, nixing water fountains and lunch counters “for coloreds” was an important milestone, but white supremacy was not dismantled the moment John F. Kennedy shook Martin Luther King, Jr.’s hand after his “I Have A Dream” speech. I, too, was shocked when I heard the news that the Civil Rights decade didn’t totally undo centuries of oppression. Alas, the struggle lives on, mostly because white people aren’t ready to say that it does.

6. The predecessors and contemporaries of #BlackLivesMatter, such as the Black Panthers, the NAACP and #BlackGirlMagic do not seek to erase the contribution of other cultures to the fabric of American life. Rather, they are asserting their creativity, intelligence, beauty, worth and humanity into the spaces (music, television, film, art, broadcast news, etc.) that have rejected them for centuries. Our cute, “Kim K-Inspired” cornrows appropriate the black culture that we ridiculed until we ripped it off of a black girl’s head and crowned ourselves with it. As Jesse Williams explained, the black experience is not one that we are allowed to try when it suits us and take off when it doesn’t. And just while we’re dancing around this subject — being Biggie’s biggest fan doesn’t give you a pass to rap along to, “If you don’t know, now you know, n****.” Just permanently cut that word out of your vocabulary.

7. Finally, white readers, please don’t ignore #BlackLivesMatter just because you can. The post-racial, land of the free American dreamland that we all lie about has no chance of becoming a reality if we can’t even acknowledge the ways in which we’ve thwarted the efforts of anti-white supremacy movements. If you’re unsettled by the loss of any human life, please write your legislators and implore them to restructure our militarized, quasi-genocidal police departments. Talk to your black and brown friends and peers to understand the ways in which racism still hurts them today, right now, this moment. A thorough understanding of the problem will lead to a proper diagnosis and, fingers crossed, an eventual cure to the racism and xenophobia that has plagued our country since its conception.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

Popular Right Now

Things To Know Before Dating A Firefighter

You'll learn how to tell the difference between different kinds of sirens.
70639
views

There are just certain things you are going to want to know before dating a fireman. In my experience, I had to learn along the way. But at the end of all the calls, constantly smelling his gear in the car and sometimes even cancelled plans, I sure do love my firefighter!

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons To Date A Country Boy

You were promised a list, so here it is:

1. If they are even within 20 minutes of the station, they will always leave you to go on a call.

No matter the circumstances, if you have a fireman on your hands, he will jet to the car and be on his way.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Date A Police Officer

2. Meeting nights are not something you try and fight with them about. They are going to leave and you do not have to like it because it wasn't up to you anyway.

I have learned that these nights are not optional. Yes, other people miss them, but not my firefighter.

3. No matter where you are or what you're doing the minute they hear a firetrucks horn, they're looking for it and hoping they're not missing anything good.

You will learn the lingo. Structures, fully involved (the good stuff) smoke alarms, cat in a tree (ehh I mean they are fireman...soooo still good stuff).

4. They know the exact difference between an ambulance, cop, and, of course, a fire truck siren.

Which means that you will have to learn, too.

5. You’ll have to accept that when he has to do hall rental cleanup, you're going with to help.

You fold the chairs and he stacks them. And Im talking at like 12 a.m.,1 a.m.

6. When you come around the firehouse, there will be jokes made and they'll mess with him about you or even you about him.

Honestly it's a giant bromance going on and they prey on this kinda stuff.

7. At first, you won't really have a name to the fire guys. Until you're around long enough.

You'll just be Boyfriend's name's girlfriend.

8. The fire pager goes where he goes.

Next to the bed, in the car, next to your bed, your living room, EVERYWHERE. And even if it's not the real pager, it's the dog app that I can never remember the name of so dog app it is. (Say that really fast to get the full effect).

9. They will probably wear their station shirt/apparel at least 4-5 days a week.

AT LEAST.

10. If you've got a good one, you're always put first. The list will always go "You, the firehouse, me, everyone else."

But secretly they always want to put the firehouse first.

11. You will learn and know more stations, trucks, members, and chiefs than you will ever want to admit.

Unbelievably true.

12. When you're driving and you see a fire station, you'll have to look at it.

If its an amazing building, you'll have to remember the name. And then you'll have to tell him about it. And then you've just proved number 11 correct. Add it to your list.

13. Never make plans while he's on a call. You can never know when he'll be back.

Even if the calls are short, they could stay at least another hour washing the trucks and being boys, of course.

14. In case you didn't understand the severity of the first one, if you are on the phone and you hear the pager go off in the background, just tell him you love him and hang up.

Because if you don't, he will. "Got a call, Love you, bye." Mid-sentence is always what you want to hear.

15. You'll never want to watch "Ladder 49" again.

You will cry like a baby and then want to make him quit.

16. Outside of the stations, fireman tend to forget that fire isn't a toy and it's pretty damn hot.

*Playing with the lighter fluid or burning things on the stove*
"No it's alright, I'm a firefighter."

17. You will start your own station shirt collection.

From NYFD memorial shirts, a station from where you're vacationing even acquired old shirts of his, you will have started your own pile of station shirts.

18. You can't get angry or upset when he is unavailable because he's going to go to the firehouse for the fifth time that week, or if there's another fire prevention thing to do.

You can't be mad because he's doing what he loves and also because a man in a uniform isn't too shabby.

There are a lot more things to know before dating a fireman, but the rest you'll just have to learn along the way.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things To Know Before Dating Someone With Anxiety

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

I Asked 20 People If They Have Ever Experienced Or Whitnessed Racism And Here Are Their Responses

Modern day racism is a thing.
593
views

It is 2018 and we are still faced with the issue of racism. Many people don't recognize it as a major issue and no one is doing anything about it. At a time like this, rather than teaching our kids to be extra careful because of the color of their skin, we should teach them love and acceptance.

People are taught racism. People are taught racist stereotypes and "jokes." People are taught ignorance.

I asked 20 college-aged people if they've ever experienced or witnessed racism, and these were their responses.

1. “I told a friend of mine that I liked a guy who’s black and she said that I ‘shouldn’t date anyone black around here because they all dress and act kinda thuggy.’” - female, Caucasian

2. "A girl told me ‘I would date you because you act white’” - male, African American

3. "One of our friends informed the rest of us that her friend had been in a car accident that morning. We were obviously all concerned so I asked her if they knew who the other person in the accident was, when this girl proceeded to say that it was probably 'some n*****s'.'” – female, Caucasian

4. “A female’s father didn’t allow her to date me in high school because of my skin color. She was just like my dad said we can’t date so we just stopped talking to each other.” - male, African American

5. “I had just gotten my honors tassel and National Honors Society sash and the boy that was next to me said, ‘You’re smart? I didn’t know Mexicans could be smarter than me’” - female, Mexican

6. "I had people tell me that I was dating a 'mix breed' and a 'mutt.'”- female, Caucasian

7. “At school I went to get some water and above the small one was labeled ‘blacks’ and the big one was labeled ‘whites’” - male, African American

8. “I was falsely accused of sexual harassment and this white female only had her word, I had evidence, witnesses, and proof counteracting her accusations but all they decided to do was effective immediately throw me out on the streets, ban me from campus, my job on campus, ban me from all eating establishments on campus, and expect me to continue to go to class because that’s all I’m allowed to do.” - male, African American

9. “My friend was getting arrested and my other friend said ‘all these n*****s’. Not knowing I was right behind him.” - male, African American

10. “I had a woman tell me at my job I needed to go back where I came from because in the US we 'speak English not Mexican' just because I was speaking Spanish to little kids” - female, Columbian

11. “I was in class and we were watching a movie about racism and a white male leaned over and said to me “I’m gonna make you my slave like all the other n*****s” . So I informed the teacher and the principal escorted him out and he was suspended, but I was harassed for months by his friends” - female, African American

12. “I’ve been told that I ‘spoke well for a black guy’” - male, African American

13. “People ask me if me or my parents are illegal immigrants, and then I’ve gotten 'you’re pretty for a Hispanic girl'" - female, Hispanic

14. “My grandmother on my dad’s side always says racist remarks around my mom who is Filipino” - female, Filipino and Caucasian

15. “I remember specifically walking out of school one day and hearing a male voice shout “N***** lover” and very loud laughs and screams.” - female, Caucasian

16. "I was at Walmart and a black woman was yelling at kids she had with her for misbehaving. They were genuinely being crazy, but most 5 year olds are! An elderly woman in front of me said 'maybe if she didn’t have that many kids for a government check, she wouldn’t have that problem.'”

17. "And my only response was, 'Are you sure they are all hers? Would you say that If she was white!?' And the woman couldn’t respond. I told the mom I respected how she was trying to keep her kids well behaved in a store. She told me only ONE was hers and the other three were from a brother who was in school trying to earn a degree and get a job. " - female, Caucasian

18. "This girl named Holly told me that I was 'pretty for a black girl' and tried to touch my hair." - female, African American

19. "There are several, which is sad, but I’ll just share one. I’m really involved in theater and after a show one day a bunch of people from the cast went out to Texas Roadhouse and I remember these two men sitting across from me and they just had this look of disgust one their faces and I kept wondering why they were looking like that. I was the only person of color at the table and I remember that night I walked out to my car and they were right beside it my friend walked with me and then to his car. The whole time I was kind of tense because I had the gut feeling that these men had something against me and I couldn’t figure out why until racial slurs flew out of their drunken mouths and I don’t think I’ve ever feared for my life more than I did in that moment." - female, African American

20. "Sometimes when I go out into public, people use their fingers to squint their eyes or they tell me 'ching chong'" - female, Korean

Many of these stories describe experiences in which a family member or friend were the ones being racially insensitive. People have gotten too comfortable being racist and treating it like a joke. Teach love, not hate.

When you catch someone making a racial comment that makes you or someone around you uncomfortable, address it.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

Related Content

Facebook Comments